New Release Spotlight: November 24, 2020

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The Spotlight this week is so short that I can’t choose any “top picks.” There is literally only one YA and one middle grade title. Picture books look pretty good though!

This week’s Spotlight titles are #1190-#1197 on The Ginormous book list.

Ruinsong by Julia Ember

In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, retelling
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: magic, royalty, tyrant rulers, rebellion, singing, freedom, LGBTQIA, dyslexia, social class, torture, The Phantom of the Opera

Biomimicry: When Nature Inspires Amazing Inventions by Seraphine Menu (Author), Emmanuelle Walker (Illustrator), Alyson Waters (Translator)

Discover how bats led to the development of radar, whales inspired the pacemaker, and the lotus flower may help us produce indestructible clothing.

“Biomimicry” comes from the Greek “bio” (life) and “mimesis” (imitation).” Here are various and amazing ways that nature inspires us to create cool inventions in science and medicine, clothing design, and architecture. From the fireflies that showed inventors how LEDs could give off more light to the burdock plant that inspired velcro to the high speed trains of Japan that take the form of a kingfisher’s sleek, aerodynamic head, there are innumerable ways that we can create smarter, better, safer inventions by observing the natural world.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-5
  • Themes: inventions, animals, biology, mimicry, nature

Elevator Bird by Sarah Williamson

It takes a strong team to keep the Hotel running smoothly, and Elevator Bird is at the center of it all.

He helps guests get to their rooms and gives great advice about all the best sights in town. He helps the staff get where they need to go, and always has an encouraging word. Elevator Bird makes everyone’s day brighter.

So when he confesses to his friend Mousie that he’s always longed for a room with a view, Mousie springs into action. All his friends at the Hotel hatch a marvelous plan to make sure Elevator Bird has the nest he deserves.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: community helpers, hotels, jobs, birds, mice, friends, nests, personification

*Once Upon a Winter Day by Liza Woodruff

Milo wants a story, but his mom is too busy to entertain him. Instead, she encourages him to go out and play in the snow. At first, Milo is disappointed–he doesn’t want to play outside, he wants a story.

But when he starts to follow a trail of mouse-prints, he discovers signs of activity all around, prompting him to ask, “What happened here?” Before long, he’s using his imagination–depicted in lush wordless spreads that capture the vividness of Milo’s fantasies–to fill in the gaps. By the time Milo comes home, he’s the one with stories to tell.

FOUR starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: mothers and sons, busy parents, play, snow, outdoors, imagination, stories, questioning, clues, animal tracks, nature, winter

Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler (Author), Jennifer Faria (Illustrator)

A boy shows his Grandpa how to jump in the snow and how to make it splash into the creek. Grandpa shows the boy rabbit tracks and deer hiding among the trees. They greet their animal neighbors by name: Raven, Rabbit, Deer, Sparrow. Back home, the little boy sets the table with cookies while Grandpa pours the milk. It has been a glorious afternoon, and soon there will be books and blankets and the big armchair by the fire.

Publishers Weekly starred. Text in English and Ojibwemowin.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: grandparents, grandfathers, tracking animals, rabbits, deer, birds, winter, Ojibwemowin, similes

Counting Creatures by Julia Donaldson

A lift-the-flap book. From a bat and its pup, to a frog and its twelve tadpoles, young readers will delight in counting each creature’s babies and learning unusual scientific names for young animals. With rhyming text, lift-the-flaps and peekaboo holes, and a surprise search-and-find element, this is a read-aloud delight and preschool must-have.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-K
  • Themes: counting, lift the flap, animals, babies

Ella’s Night Lights by Lucy Fleming

Nestled in a little nook in an old oak tree is a tiny girl named Ella. Ella loves light, but must be sure to avoid the sun because of her delicate wings.

Flittering about at night, she collects light from everything that glows and glimmers in the darkness, always making sure to share the light she gathers with those who need it most.

Until one day, when her animal friends decide it’s their turn to give back–with a creative plan that just may make Ella’s dream of seeing the sun come true.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: nighttime, light, sharing, friendship, thoughtfulness, flying, animals

Tani’s New Home: A Refugee Finds Hope and Kindness in America by Tanitoluwa Adewumi (Author) and Courtney Dawson (Illustrator)

Tani was just six years old when he and his family fled persecution in Nigeria and became refugees in New York City. Tani was amazed, and a little overwhelmed, by all the new things in America. But one new experience turned out to be the most wonderful discovery–chess!

With joy and determination, Tani studied hard, practicing chess for hours on the floor of his room in the homeless shelter. Less than a year later, he won the New York State Chess Championship, and through one act of kindness after another, found a new home.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: refugees, Nigeria, New York City, chess, determination, perseverance, kindness, home, hope



The New Release Spotlight began in May 2016 as a way to help librarians keep up with the many new children’s and YA books that are released each week. Every Tuesday, school librarian Leigh Collazo compiles the New Release Spotlight using a combination of Follett’s Titlewave, Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. Recommended grade levels represent the range of grade levels recommended by professional book reviewers.


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